Cannabis is a healing plant. But, can it help heal a fracture? Will it take the pain away from a sprain or twist? What is the best way to use cannabis after an injury, anyway? Recently, there has been some concerning headlines about cannabis and breaks. But, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. Here’s the scoop on cannabis for broken bones, twists, and sprains.
Does cannabis make your bones brittle?
Though cannabis has a high margin of safety, there is some good evidence that the herb is best saved for adult consumers. One concern making headlines recently is that cannabis may make you more susceptible to bone breaks.
A study published earlier this year  found that chronic cannabis consumption was associated with a lower bone density.
However, the study also articulated that cannabis consumers also had a lower average weight and BMI, which may account for the reduction in bone density. Out of 170 participants, fractures were more abundant in heavy consumers.
“Heavy consumption” was defined as consumption over 5,000 times in their lives. Moderate consumers did not show an increased risk of fracture.
However, earlier research has found that the herb may affect bones differently as you age.
A 2009 study found that cannabis may reduce bone strength in younger people. But, it has the opposite effect in older adults. The study authors go as far to suggest that these findings may be beneficial for the future treatment of osteoporosis.
So, in terms of bone breaks, it may be best to start cannabis later in life.
CBD for mending broken bones
It’s an interesting paradox, really. On one hand, some evidence suggests that cannabis may make you more susceptible to fracture. On the other, if you have a fracture, the herb may be exactly what you need to heal.
In 2015, Israeli researchers published an amazing study. The researchers used rats with broken thigh bones as test subjects. They then injected either pure CBD or a combination of CBD and psychoactive THC into the animals.
Guess what? Cannabinoid treatment helped the bones heal.
Pure CBD was more effective than the CBD/THC combination. In the CBD rats, the broken bones seemed to heal faster and the break developed a stronger fracture callus. A fracture callus is like a cartilage bridge between the areas of the break. The strengthened callus means that the fracture was less likely to rebreak.
All in all, the researchers estimated that the CBD-treated bone was 35-50% stronger than a non-treated bone. That’s pretty darn astounding.
Cannabis for sprain & twist relief
So, what do you do if you do have a break? Or even a sprain, twist, or another injury? It’s inadvisable to inject CBD into the injury site. What are the alternatives?
To date, there have been no studies on oral CBD and bone remodeling (healing). But, oral CBD and topical cream do have some other coveted benefits.
When you first get a wound or injury, some inflammation is good. That is part of the body’s natural healing process. However, persistent inflammation is something to contend with.
The inflammation from a strain, break, or twist can last for weeks. Typically doctors will recommend anti-inflammatory medication like high doses of ibuprofen, or a stronger pain medication.
Cannabis topicals may be a great addition to a post-injury care routine. A cannabis topical is an infused cream or balm. Topicals are non-psychoactive and provide localized relief. They only take effect in the areas to which they are applied.
Just like many other parts of the body, there are cannabinoid receptors throughout the layers of the epidermis. Cannabinoid receptors are the connecting sites for the active compounds in the cannabis plant. These receptors are also found on immune cells, which contribute to the inflammatory response.
Applying a cannabis topical to the skin or sore muscle surrounding the injury site may help reduce inflammation and provide relief from localized pain and stiffness.
For pain relief for a persistent injury, oral CBD may be of some help. There have been no clinical studies on oral CBD for relief after a break, but the cannabinoid has a long list of therapeutic benefits.
CBD on its own has a wide array of benefits, including potent anti-inflammatory properties and strong pain-relieving effects.
CBD has many functions in the body, but one of them is the modulation of a special cell receptor called the vanilloid receptor (TRPV1). The overall function of the receptor is to modulate body temperature. But it also enables the body to feel scalding heat and pain.
CBD directly stimulates the vanilloid receptor, which partly explains its potent pain-fighting effects. Injecting CBD into an injury site may not be possible, but talking to your doctor about oral CBD as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory is certainly an option.
Related article: CBD: Everything You Need To Know About Cannabidiol